Review: Sway by Kat Spears

SwaySway by Kat Spears

Publication Date: September 16, 2014
Page Count: 320
Published by: St. Martin's Griffin
Source: Library

Synopsis from Goodreads:

In Kat Spears’s hilarious and often poignant debut, high school senior Jesse Alderman, or "Sway," as he’s known, could sell hell to a bishop. He also specializes in getting things people want---term papers, a date with the prom queen, fake IDs. He has few close friends and he never EVER lets emotions get in the way. For Jesse, life is simply a series of business transactions.

But when Ken Foster, captain of the football team, leading candidate for homecoming king, and all-around jerk, hires Jesse to help him win the heart of the angelic Bridget Smalley, Jesse finds himself feeling all sorts of things. While following Bridget and learning the intimate details of her life, he falls helplessly in love for the very first time. He also finds himself in an accidental friendship with Bridget’s belligerent and self-pitying younger brother who has cerebral palsy. Suddenly, Jesse is visiting old folks at a nursing home in order to run into Bridget, and offering his time to help the less fortunate, all the while developing a bond with this young man who idolizes him. Could the tin man really have a heart after all?

A Cyrano de Bergerac story with a modern twist, Sway is told from Jesse’s point of view with unapologetic truth and biting humor, his observations about the world around him untempered by empathy or compassion---until Bridget’s presence in his life forces him to confront his quiet devastation over a life-changing event a year earlier and maybe, just maybe, feel something again.

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I really, really wanted to like this book. But it turned out to be the second book I have read recently where I immediately disliked the protagonist, then spent the rest of the book trying to find something to like about him.

The protagonist, Jesse aka Sway, has an openness with his thoughts and feelings, but he has such disdain and contempt for others that he comes off as a major a**hole. He is uncaring and unfeeling, with no morals, and every single thing that he does is carefully thought out and planned to extract the most benefit to him. He lies and manipulates and is always looking out for only himself. Jesse starts getting to know Bridget in order to help Ken, who offers Jesse money in exchange for inside information so he can get Bridget to date him. Being around such a genuinely nice person like Bridget makes Jesse question himself and the choices he has made. As Jesse falls for Bridget, he begins to wonder if a guy like him can change and be worthy of her love.

I loved that Sway was told from a male's POV. Even though the story had a lot of Jesse's stream of conscious type writing, it didn't really help me understand him better. As it was, I found a lot of his behavior to be offensive, and I had a hard time truly understanding why he did the things he did.

This book is chock full of unlikable, cliché characters. Although I did like Pete, and I thought Joey was an interesting character, but there was too little time spent with her. I was extremely disappointed by the rampant drug use throughout, and the very questionable behavior exhibited by many of the characters.

It's unfortunate that the 'love story' was almost non-existent. The story was pretty far-fetched and unbelievable, and Jesse still needed a LOT of redeeming in my eyes. I thought the writing was just okay, the dialogue was clunky at times, and the plot was very thin. The ending wrapped up way too quickly and neatly for my taste. Overall, this was just an okay read that I wish I had enjoyed more than I did.

My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars
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